The Role of Oil Price Shocks in Causing U.S. Recessions

41 Pages Posted: 10 Mar 2016

See all articles by Lutz Kilian

Lutz Kilian

Federal Reserve Banks - Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Robert J. Vigfusson

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 8, 2016

Abstract

Although oil price shocks have long been viewed as one of the leading candidates for explaining U.S. recessions, surprisingly little is known about the extent to which oil price shocks explain recessions. We provide a formal analysis of this question with special attention to the possible role of net oil price increases in amplifying the transmission of oil price shocks. We quantify the conditional recessionary effect of oil price shocks in the net oil price increase model for all episodes of net oil price increases since the mid-1970s. Compared to the linear model, the cumulative effect of oil price shocks over course of the next two years is much larger in the net oil price increase model. For example, oil price shocks explain a 3% cumulative reduction in U.S. real GDP in the late 1970s and early 1980s and a 5% cumulative reduction during the financial crisis. An obvious concern is that some of these estimates are an artifact of net oil price increases being correlated with other variables that explain recessions. We show that the explanatory power of oil price shocks largely persists even after augmenting the nonlinear model with a measure of credit supply conditions, of the monetary policy stance and of consumer confidence. There is evidence, however, that the conditional fit of the net oil price increase model is worse on average than the fit of the corresponding linear model, suggesting much smaller cumulative effects of oil price shocks for these episodes of at most 1%.

Keywords: real GDP, nonlinearity, asymmetry, time variation, conditional response, prediction

JEL Classification: E32, E37, E51, Q43

Suggested Citation

Kilian, Lutz and Vigfusson, Robert John, The Role of Oil Price Shocks in Causing U.S. Recessions (February 8, 2016). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 5743, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2745171 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2745171

Lutz Kilian (Contact Author)

Federal Reserve Banks - Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas ( email )

2200 North Pearl Street
PO Box 655906
Dallas, TX 75265-5906
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Robert John Vigfusson

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System ( email )

20th Street and Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20551
United States

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